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HEATHEN IL-KHANS OF PERSIA     181
the Pope in A.D. 1278 despatched a Franciscan Mission
to Abaga and also to the Khakan, but it is believed that,
although some measure of success rewarded their efforts
in Persia, the Mission did not penetrate farther east.
The Moslems were undoubtedly enemies both of the
Mongols and of Christendom, and, as Hay ton of Armenia
and the Georgians were faithful allies to their suzerain,
one at least of whose wives was a Christian, there is little
doubt that the intercourse was prompted by a genuine
desire to secure co-operation against the powers of Islam.
The Journey of Marco Polo in Persia, A.D. 1271.—One
result, perhaps the only good one, of the Mongol con-
quests was that when the descendants of the conquerors,
growing more civilized, became anxious to repair the
devastation wrought by their terrible ancestors, almost
the whole of Asia was opened to the traveller. We have
examples in Carpini and Rubruquis of missions reach-
ing Karacoram from distant countries in Asia and from
Europe, and these missions must in every case have
added considerably to mutual knowledge. In their wake
followed the merchant-adventurers, greatest of whom was
the illustrious Marco Polo,1 justly named " The Father of
Geography." It is of special interest to note that the three
great geographers of early days, namely, Herodotus who
lived in the fifth century B.C., Chang Kien who lived in
the second century B.C., and Marco Polo who lived in
the thirteenth century of our era, all described Persia, the
Highway of the Nations. Apart from any comparisons
which may be instituted, the actual value of the informa-
tion given is considerable, and in the case of the two
European travellers enables us to present a vivid picture
of the country.
Marco Polo started on his famous journey across Asia
to China from Lajazzo on the Gulf of Scanderun and
entered Persia at or near Tabriz, where a Venetian colony
1 The classic which deals with this subject is Yule's Travels of Marco Polo, one of
the most fascinating works ever written. A third edition has been edited by Cordier,
who is an authority on China, but not on Persia. In Ten Thousand Miles, etc., chap, xxiii.
is devoted to the travels of Marco Polo in Persia, and in the Journal R.G.S. vol. xxvi.
(1905), p. 462, I have discussed the question as to whether he visited Baghdad, as Yule
and Cordier believed. My opinion that he did not is supported by Beazley in. his of. cit.
vol. iii. p. 49 ff. Marco Polo actually travelled with his father and uncle.